Christmastime Has A New Meaning

Christmastime Has A New Meaning

Christmastime has a new meaning by Jack Minogue
Sept. 11 attacks have given folks a different perspective on life

It's Christmastime.
What to write about.
There's St. John's decision to take its football team out of the Northeast
Conference and to return to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference - a
classic case of some athletes being more equal than others.
No, not now. Not at Christmastime.
Maybe something about asking Santa for presents for the Island's athletic/recreational community: A track for runners - kids, high school athletes, adults - who, once again, are finding themselves whipped by winter's winds.

Or, something about the Scrooges at the City Planning Commission planning to
steal one of this community's last major pieces of public land for the
Charleston Retail Mall, a project no one in this community seems to want.
Not this Christmas. Not after Sept. 11.

Not when I still get choked up every time I hear the National Anthem or "God
Bless America" or "Proud to be an American," or read a story in this paper
about one of the heroes on that day of infamy. Not when tears came to my eyes as I wrote about the College of Staten Island's planned holiday basketball tournament to honor three of its heroes
- Terrance Aiken, Scott Davidson and Tom Hannafin.

Not when I can't finish my thought when I talk about my old parish, St. Rita's, changing the name of a Christmas tournament honoring the finest man I ever met, Monsignor Paul Andrews. My childhood hero will now share the billing with one of my senior-citizen heroes: Chuck Margiotta.

They're all heroes, you know: The firefighters, the cops, the EMT people, the Port Authority personnel, and the everyday heroes like Joe Doyle and Tom Celic who, on a morning the golf course beckoned, got themselves to work early, driven by obligations to family and to their jobs.
They've changed forever my life, the lives of most people I know, and many more I don't.
Every person I've spoken to has told me in word and often in deed that Sept. 11's heroes have changed their perspective - that they no longer take life, life's little pleasures, family, friends and even going to work for granted.

But the heroes of Sept. 11 - those who perished and those who survived -have not simply changed the lives of those here on Staten Island and New York City and the metropolitan area.
This past week, the New York City Fire Department received a truck to replace one lost when the Twin Towers came down. The truck cost $600,000 and the money was raised by the people of Louisiana, the poorest state in the country.

We're no longer the self-centered people who rarely were concerned about anything or anyone outside this country's borders. We're no longer the country and the people and the media who forgot about Afghanistan after the Soviet Union had pulled out, ignoring the plight of its people and especially its women. It's now obvious that unless we want more Sept. 11s, more fallen heroes, we have to make things right for the people there - and in countries in similar straits.

It's Christmastime, and the holidays will never be the same for the families of Sept. 11's fallen heroes. But thanks to them, Christmastime will never be the same for the rest of us,
and neither will our lives or the rest of the world.

Jack Minogue/Staten Island Advance